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Cadillac CEO Johan de Nysschen unexpectedly departs amid tumult at luxury brand


In what appears to be a very unexpected move, General Motors announced that Cadillac’s current president, Johan de Nysschen, is leaving, effective immediately. The 58-year-old de Nysschen, formerly of head of Infiniti before being appointed chief of Cadillac in 2014, will be succeeded by Steve Carlisle as General Motors’ senior vice president and president of Cadillac. He also spent time at Audi America.

Because of this sudden change, a number of other executives also shifted around. Replacing Carlisle as the president and managing director of GM Canada is Travis Hester, who had been vice president of GM’s Global Product Programs.

Cadillac has been struggling recently, due to what many insiders deem a limited and stagnant lineup that lags in comparison to the competition, as well as an apparent lack of direction. For the past year, rumors of disagreement surfaced between de Nysschen and Cadillac shareholders on the best way to revive the brand.

“We appreciate Johan’s efforts over the last four years in setting a stronger foundation for Cadillac,” said General Motors President Dan Ammann in an official statement. “Looking forward, the world is changing rapidly and, beginning with the launch of the new XT4, it is paramount that we capitalize immediately on the opportunities that arise from this rate of change. This move will further accelerate our efforts in that regard.”

de Nysschen at the 2018 N.Y. Auto Show, revealing the CT6 VSport Cadillac

De Nysschen first made a name for himself as the chief of Audi’s management for the U.S., where he nearly doubled the company’s market share in just seven years. He then was appointed the chief of Infiniti in 2012, before becoming the CEO of Cadillac in August 2014.

Known as a very “outspoken” executive, de Nysschen talked often of his plan for Cadillac’s future. His goal was to incorporate more performance cars into Cadillac’s lineup to keep the company’s momentum strong following the rise of its high-performance Cadillac V lineup. He also felt that Cadillac is in dire need of expanding its lineup, particularly in the crossover department. That’s why Cadillac recently introduced a compact crossover, the XT4, to join the midsize XT5.

However, disagreement over this trajectory is rumored to have not sat well with other top executives at the company, especially with de Nysschen’s reputation for completely overhauling nomenclature and vehicle model naming themes. Infiniti’s current lineup and model naming is a result of when de Nysschen was in charge there.

Nonetheless, it will be interesting to see how Cadillac moves forward. Cadillac was off to a good start by introducing competitive sedan options such as the CTS, ATS, and, more recently, the CT6 sedan. And de Nysschen apparently had plans to give Cadillac the refresh it needs.

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